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 The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees

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PostSubject: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:36 pm

As news of the reintroduction of third level fees threatens to shatter the future plans of thousands of young people and cutbacks in front-line health service staff are announced along with body blows to all forms of publicly funded services, I wonder whether any of the recent recipients of poorer working people's taxes (aka SSIA 'investors' ) might now begin to reflect on what should have been blindingly obvious to them all along: there is no such thing as a free lunch. All those tummy tucks and foreign holidays might begin to seem a bit rash. I appreciate that some people saw it as an opportunity to put money aside as a buffer against unforseeable difficulties but the sad fact is that SSIAs themselves were a scheme almost guaranteed to hasten the very difficulties that people may have wanted to protect themselves from. For the people who gained most from this scheme, however, such considerations were never an issue.

Here is a superlatively stupid article from The Independent in 2006 in which journalist Margaret Carragher admonishes the Irish for what she calls our 'parsimonious' attitude and urges us to go out and spend. As the parent of a young person who has worked hard towards and dreamed of studying medicine, we are now told that we are likely to face fees of 10K euro per year.

http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/miserly-means-misery-so-go-out-and-spend-107480.html


Last edited by cactus flower on Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:05 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : to explain the full content of the OP and thread cf)
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Sat Aug 16, 2008 11:07 pm

While I took advantage of the scheme as it would have been stupid not to, I was well aware of its political implications from the get go. It was timed to pump prime the economy before the election. McCreepy knew full well how much money was beginning to slosh around the Irish economy and he wanted that money channeled to good use in 2007 just in case the economy wasn't as rosy in as in 2002. Imo, only in Ireland could such a scheme be legally floated, and to use tax payer's fund to redistribute wealth to the better off was just reprehensible. However, it is the news article you cite that really gets my goat, and it reminds me why I haven't read an Irish newspaper in nearly a decade (bar the SBP which I dabble in a couple Sundays a month). Those sentiments expressed, and I might hasten to add expressed by ground level FF activists, are the basis for our fundamentally flawed economy. Savings are the bedrock upon which investment takes place and upon which people can make sane plans for the future. Saving is not some outrageous parsimony as portrayed by the one ludicrous example given.

As for educational fees, it seems like they're almost inevitable. The UK has reintroduced them with gusto. It seems almost like a form of privitisation of the university system such as they have in the US. The only way for the average wage earner to cope is to take on debt or to have saved a considerable amount of dosh over the years. It has become that little bit harder to save in Ireland as we now one of the most expensive economies to do business in the world. Imo, it's another nail in the coffin the middle classes and will probably make university off limits to many wage earner's offspring. We'll no doubt hear news stories of a young impoverished student who works two jobs and takes on enormous debts in order to pay their way through university. Such stories will be beloved by our business oriented and owned media.

While we think nothing of tranferring billions of Euros of tax payer's money to developers for infrastructure, we also seem intent on burdening the wage earner and their offspring with debt or limited access to third level education. Education infrastracture is just too expensive according to many pundits today.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:35 am

Do we have to take on every badly thought out scheme that the British cook up? What is coming up is the burdening of young people or their parents with "student loans" - a heavy burden of debt during and after study.

Students leave university in Britain with debts of 20,000-30,000 sterling. Many of them never get "graduate level" employment. Some jump ship and emigrate to evade the burden.

Education is one of the "slow burn" factors that we have to get right if we are ever to recover a viable economy.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:41 am

So we either fund our Universities properly at givernment level or we charge the students who use them, currently we are doing neither.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:58 pm

Aragon wrote:
As news of the reintroduction of third level fees threatens to shatter the future plans of thousands of young people and cutbacks in front-line health service staff are announced along with body blows to all forms of publicly funded services, I wonder whether any of the recent recipients of poorer working people's taxes (aka SSIA 'investors' ) might now begin to reflect on what should have been blindingly obvious to them all along: there is no such thing as a free lunch. All those tummy tucks and foreign holidays might begin to seem a bit rash. I appreciate that some people saw it as an opportunity to put money aside as a buffer against unforseeable difficulties but the sad fact is that SSIAs themselves were a scheme almost guaranteed to hasten the very difficulties that people may have wanted to protect themselves from. For the people who gained most from this scheme, however, such considerations were never an issue.

Here is a superlatively stupid article from The Independent in 2006 in which journalist Margaret Carragher admonishes the Irish for what she calls our 'parsimonious' attitude and urges us to go out and spend. As the parent of a young person who has worked hard towards and dreamed of studying medicine, we are now told that we are likely to face fees of 10K euro per year.

[url=http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/miserly-means-misery-so-go-out-and-spend-107480.html
http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/miserly-means-misery-so-go-out-and-spend-107480.html[/quote[/url]]

Some people put their SSIA's in the education fund, but that was no excuse for an inflationary scheme that transferred money to people who already had money to spare. We are facing a desperate shortage of doctors and have the lowest ratio of gps per person in Europe. There was a girl on RTE radio this morning who had just finished a three year Speech Therapy degree with 29 others, on a course set up because there was a shortage of trained people, and now the HSE is not going to employ one of them. We need to change our priorities.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:10 pm

cactus flower wrote:

Some people put their SSIA's in the education fund, but that was no excuse for an inflationary scheme that transferred money to people who already had money to spare. We are facing a desperate shortage of doctors and have the lowest ratio of gps per person in Europe. There was a girl on RTE radio this morning who had just finished a three year Speech Therapy degree with 29 others, on a course set up because there was a shortage of trained people, and now the HSE is not going to employ one of them. We need to change our priorities.

Health service is a joke for all the reasons above and more. In regard to your two points on the health service above I can declare a vested interest in both. My girlfriend is about to do her Masters in Speech Therapy in UL, it will take 2 years, having already studied psychology and linguistics for the past 4 years. She will be incredibly qualified by the end of it but right now there are no jobs to be had in an area which is crying out for investment. It really is stupid because at the end of the day the treatment is going to be procured for the children anyway, just they'll have to go privately and it will end up costing more per child. I really don't understand why there isn't a prominent organisation for children with language and developmental impediments. They could bring down the cost per child if the many people seeking private care pooled themselves.

On the point of doctors, there is a key issue in regard to the provision of practitioners which is often overlooked. Kevin Myers touched on the issue when he wrote that controversial column on the number of female graduates who plan to work part time or not at all. However, as per usual he missed the actual point by hitting it from the wrong angle. My mother is a general practitioner. She works 3 or 4 days a week and has done for my whole life. Because of the fact that she works 'part time' - ignoring the amount of work that she brings home for a moment - she is not entitled to a H.S.E. contract for her work - this amounts to two serious issues. First, she cannot see public patients in a practise of her own. The H.S.E. will only give out fulltime contracts for health card patients. This means that a part time doctor must work under another doctor. The H.S.E. won't even allow you to job share among doctors, i.e. share a fulltime contract. This seriously disadvantages female doctors and if it were the case that they could job share, as a nurse could in a hospital, it would greatly improve the provision of care. Many doctors just give up working because they're not bothered having to work under another doctor of similar qualification just because they have a fulltime H.S.E. contract. The second issue is that female doctors in the part time situation are seriously discriminated against in regard to pensions, because they get no pension benefit for all their public consultations owing to the fact that it was not their contract which they were working under. The latter point is really for another day.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:14 pm

I have to say that the SSIA scheme is the reason why I continue to save. The tax break on pensions is also the reason why I have a pension. Personal debt is a big problem and I think McCreevy saw that coming and was right to address it.

In relation to third level fees, when I was in college all the SU hacks were againt the free fees because they weren't means tested and the money saved should have been applied to those who needed it rather than across the board. While no fan of Niamh Breatnach, who had a son in college at the time, I did agree with the approach as many people were getting the Grant based based on under-declaration of income while families struggling on a teacher's income were getting nothing and paying full fees.

If the tax system has come so far and farmers' incomes have become that much more transparent that the grant system could be applied fairly then I might be in favour of a similar approach to fees. However, I think we are a few years away from that yet.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:27 pm

At least the speech therapy students are not ending their degrees with a massive debt from a student loan.

Free fees should be seen as an opportunity - graduates will do on average better paid work and will pay more tax. It is disingenuous to say that free fees take away from other forms of expenditure. There is not a choice being made between primary school building and university fees. Taxes could be increased, or other expenditures reduced. Low taxation has contributed to inflation in Ireland and to our present economic predicament.

The Universities are disastrously underfunded and this is being used as an excuse to bring fees back in. Any sane economic strategy for Ireland would invest in Third and Fourth Level.

I feel differently about state funding of private schools which I think is undermining the public sector. Imo private education should stand on its own two feet, and public schools should have to cater for all groups equally and without discrimination.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:39 pm

Anyone who does a Masters does, free fees only covers undergraduate education, it is quite specific it what it covers. For instance, the State will not provide you with free fees if you attend somewhere like Griffith College, unless the situation has changed since I was starting university. They will also not cover you if you change course, which is fair enough - for instance one of my friends started Science then wanted to do vetinary so took chemistry for the Leaving Cert during his first year in college, he had to personally fund his first year in vet to the tune of 7,000 euro.

Doing a Masters is an expensive business - 2 years worth of fees bringing you towards 10,000 euro, 2 years of accommodation bringing you towards another 10,000 euro plus living expenses. The funny thing is that if you train over in Britain you can do postgraduate speech therapy courses for free.

I disagree with you in regard to 'private schools'.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:43 pm

When money is tight you have to start prioritising. If money is spent in area A then it cannot be spent in Area B unless you are happy to spend money you don't have. I think we tried that before!

I don't see the moral or philosophical issue with University fees save that I think there should be a way for the students to pay them later rather than saddling parents with the debt. Do you see a moral or philosophical problem CF?

The pluses of fees is it makes colleges compete against each other for students. If there are student loans then it brings home to students the value of what they are getting, the importance of doing well and it also educates them about how loans and finance work.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:48 pm

If there is to be fees it should use the top up fees system that they have brought in rather than up front fees. I do think that the issues of fees gets bandied about it a rather too simplistic way. If fees are brought in there would also have to be a huge increase in the level of student grants from the government and a change to allow people whose parents are earning more than is the case now to avail of such grants.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:03 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
When money is tight you have to start prioritising. If money is spent in area A then it cannot be spent in Area B unless you are happy to spend money you don't have. I think we tried that before!

I don't see the moral or philosophical issue with University fees save that I think there should be a way for the students to pay them later rather than saddling parents with the debt. Do you see a moral or philosophical problem CF?

The pluses of fees is it makes colleges compete against each other for students. If there are student loans then it brings home to students the value of what they are getting, the importance of doing well and it also educates them about how loans and finance work.

Modern nations need to have a highly educated workforce: it benefits society as a whole. If there was a capitation grant then that would provide the same level of competition.

In the UK student loans bring, misery, debt and emigration and get people into the habit of living on credit. They make it difficult to go into internship positions that might be the best for their careers. It would be much better to have a special savings scheme (with people on social welfare having their payments made by government) that could only be redeemed against education.

I wonder how they do it elsewhere, say China and the US.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:08 pm

cactus flower wrote:

I wonder how they do it elsewhere, say China and the US.

You pay around $9,000 per year to attend a public university in the US. To go to an Ivy League Institution or another good private university you pay around $30,000 - $35,000 per year. Alot of American graduates that I know affix their student debt to their mortgages after graduation.

I would imagine China's university population is very small in proportion to their overall population. I presume this, such as many other things, will cause a great deal of difficulty into the future.

edit:

A glance at Google told me that China's post secondary population is 20 million. Well 4 million (Ireland's population) goes into 1.3 billion (China's population) 325 times. 20 million divided by 325 is 61,000. There would probably be more student's doing some form of post second level education in Dublin alone than that.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:18 pm

johnfás wrote:
cactus flower wrote:

I wonder how they do it elsewhere, say China and the US.

You pay around $9,000 per year to attend a public university in the US. To go to an Ivy League Institution or another good private university you pay around $30,000 - $35,000 per year. Alot of American graduates that I know affix their student debt to their mortgages after graduation.

I would imagine China's university population is very small in proportion to their overall population. I presume this, such as many other things, will cause a great deal of difficulty into the future.

Student loans and scholarships seems to be the answer according to Wikipedia. I couldn't see anything on the proportion of the population at Third Level, but here are some statistics to make one swallow hard.


Quote :
By the end of 2004, China had 2,236 schools of higher learning, with over 20 million students; the gross rate of enrollment in schools of higher learning reached 19 percent. Postgraduate education is the fastest growing sector, with 24.1 percent more students recruited and 25.9 percent more researchers than the year before. This enrollment growth indicates that China has entered the stage of popular education. The UNESCO world higher education report of June 2003 pointed out that the student population of China's schools of higher learning had doubled in a very short period of time, and was the world's largest.

Particular attention has been paid to improving systems in recent reforms. Many industrial multiversities and specialist colleges have been established, strengthening some incomplete subjects and establishing new specialties, e.g., automation, atomic energy, energy resources, oceanography, nuclear physics, computer science, polymer chemistry, polymer physics, radiochemistry, physical chemistry and biophysics. A project for creating 100 world class universities began in 1993, which has merged 708 schools of higher learning into 302 universities. Merging schools of higher learning has produced far-reaching reform of higher education management, optimizing of educational resources allocation, and further improving teaching quality and school standards. More than 30 universities have received help from a special national fund to support their attainment of world elite class.
Between 1999 and 2003, enrollment in higher education increased from 1.6 million to 3.82 million. In 2004, the total enrollment in ordinary schools of higher learning was 4.473 million, 651,000 more than in 2003. Schools of higher learning and research institutes enrolled 326,000 postgraduate students, 57,000 more than the previous year.
The contribution to China's economic construction and social development made by research in the higher education sector is becoming ever more evident. By strengthening cooperation among their production, teaching and research, schools of higher learning are speeding up the process in turning sci-tech research results into products, giving rise to many new and hi-tech enterprises and important innovations. Forty-three national university sci-tech parks have been started or approved, some of which have become important bases for commercializing research.

Add to that that Chinese people on average perform best in IQ tests...
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:20 pm

Absolutely, China is rapidly expanding, but review my calculation above. China's university population in proportionate terms to Ireland is the equivalent of roughly UCD, DIT and TCD. That ignores other institutions in Ireland such as Maynooth, RCSI, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Dundalk, Drogheda etc. Ireland's university and third level population proportionately could easily be more than double that of China's hence it is alot more expensive to fund.

That is why I argue that China will probably experience a great difficulty in the future in regard to this issue. As it will in regard to housing, clean water, sanitation, transportation and most other difficulties that the West deals with. China will probably be better equipped to deal with them because their developmental infrastructure is being built at a time of better technology than ours was, but equally they are dealing with the issues on a much greater scale which is a danger.


Last edited by johnfás on Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:23 pm

johnfás wrote:
Absolutely, China is rapidly expanding, but review my calculation above. China's university population in proportionate terms to Ireland is the equivalent of roughly UCD, DIT and TCD. Ireland's university population proportionately could be double that of China's hence it is alot more expensive to fund.

Ireland is now a world leader in terms of the percentage of students going to college. Ronnie O'Toole wrote an excellent piece in yesterday's ST Business section including the fact that 41% of our youth labour force has at least a third level degree or higher. Comparatively, we outstrip most of the developed world in terms of our youth third level participation rates.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:25 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
johnfás wrote:
Absolutely, China is rapidly expanding, but review my calculation above. China's university population in proportionate terms to Ireland is the equivalent of roughly UCD, DIT and TCD. Ireland's university population proportionately could be double that of China's hence it is alot more expensive to fund.

Ireland is now a world leader in terms of the percentage of students going to college. Ronnie O'Toole wrote an excellent piece in yesterday's ST Business section including the fact that 41% of our youth labour force has at least a third level degree or higher. Comparatively, we outstrip most of the developed world in terms of our youth third level participation rates.

This is good news. Thankyou Ard-Taiseach Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:44 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
johnfás wrote:
Absolutely, China is rapidly expanding, but review my calculation above. China's university population in proportionate terms to Ireland is the equivalent of roughly UCD, DIT and TCD. Ireland's university population proportionately could be double that of China's hence it is alot more expensive to fund.

Ireland is now a world leader in terms of the percentage of students going to college. Ronnie O'Toole wrote an excellent piece in yesterday's ST Business section including the fact that 41% of our youth labour force has at least a third level degree or higher. Comparatively, we outstrip most of the developed world in terms of our youth third level participation rates.

I sometimes wonder about the quality of degrees being obtained in private colleges. I think that the free fees for the main state colleges are a great help though. On top of that, abolishing them would not go down well with the Green voter demographic.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:59 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
johnfás wrote:
Absolutely, China is rapidly expanding, but review my calculation above. China's university population in proportionate terms to Ireland is the equivalent of roughly UCD, DIT and TCD. Ireland's university population proportionately could be double that of China's hence it is alot more expensive to fund.

Ireland is now a world leader in terms of the percentage of students going to college. Ronnie O'Toole wrote an excellent piece in yesterday's ST Business section including the fact that 41% of our youth labour force has at least a third level degree or higher. Comparatively, we outstrip most of the developed world in terms of our youth third level participation rates.

That is true and it is indeed very encouraging for the future. However, we remain below average in promoting equity of access and equality of participation in third level education. Participation rates in socio-economically deprived areas remain very poor and other groups like mature students and minority groups also suffer from low representation. Currently Ireland has a reasonably impressive participation rate of 57%. The HEA and the DoES have set a target to increase this participation rate to 72% by 2020. As the country has practically reached saturation point in terms of youth participation, this % increase will have to come from under-represented groups, something that the 'free fees' scheme was supposed to address.

A lot of the debate around Higher Education funding is politically loaded and sensationalised. Batt O'Keefe has stated that he intends to set the threshold for the payment of fees at well above 100,000 per family. It is also anticipated that the grant allocation system and threshold would undergo considerable reform which is badly needed. Talk of working class families being hit with thousands of euro in additional fee payments is inaccurate and stymies sensible debate on the issue. The bottom line is that our universities are currently being run on an absolute shoestring and that situation is simply untenable. Everyone cries about access and participation but that isn't worth a damn if the quality of the degree is of a poor standard. That is the direction Irish third-level education is currently headed.

I believe that people who can afford to pay should pay. I also believe that grant funding is in serious need of immediate reform and all state subsidies for private school funding should be withdrawn.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:16 pm

These arbitrary figures (ie over 100,000 and you pay full fees) are pathetic and always work out disasterously in practise. I know families who until the introduction of the doctor only medical card were earning just over the threshold to receive a medical card yet owing to their situation they were absolutely crippled by medical bills. This led to them actually asking for a decrease in salary from their employer because they were better off overall earning less money. This is an absolutely stupid situation.

What is 100k when you have four kids to feed and pay university fees, a mortgage to pay and a parent to support through nursing care not provided by the State? There may be an argument for some form of fees, but it would have to be graduated. None of this arbitrary nonsense. We are not going back to the days of my grandparents where one lucky child was sent to education while the rest rotted.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:27 pm

johnfás wrote:
These arbitrary figures (ie over 100,000 and you pay full fees) are pathetic and always work out disasterously in practise. I know families who until the introduction of the doctor only medical card were earning just over the threshold to receive a medical card yet owing to their situation they were absolutely crippled by medical bills. This led to them actually asking for a decrease in salary from their employer because they were better off overall earning less money. This is an absolutely stupid situation.

What is 100k when you have four kids to feed and pay university fees, a mortgage to pay and a parent to support through nursing care not provided by the State? There may be an argument for some form of fees, but it would have to be graduated. None of this arbitrary nonsense. We are not going back to the days of my grandparents where one lucky child was sent to university while the rest rotted.


O'Keefe stated that the threshold would in fact be well over 100,000 per family. In addition to that, there will never be a return to 'full fees' as was the case pre-1992. I understand that a flat rate of around 3,000 will be introduced. I have heard nothing with regard to how that should be paid, i.e. whether it would be an up-front payment or retrospective. I believe the latter option is in line with international best practice.

As it stands the government pay for each student to complete and undergraduate degree. It is obviously essential that the government continue to pay this in addition to the additional income that will be generated from proposed fee-payers. In relation to your last point (which will adorn many a USI press release) the grant scheme, even in its current pitiful state, already takes account of dependents and the number of children. A progressive financial assistance model can avoid those kind of issues.
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:30 pm

Interesting article here.

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/Newsroom/Media-Releases/Pages/MediaRelease.aspx
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PostSubject: Re: The stupidity formerly known as SSIAs and the re-introduction of Third Level Fees   Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:32 pm

johnfás wrote:
These arbitrary figures (ie over 100,000 and you pay full fees) are pathetic and always work out disasterously in practise. I know families who until the introduction of the doctor only medical card were earning just over the threshold to receive a medical card yet owing to their situation they were absolutely crippled by medical bills. This led to them actually asking for a decrease in salary from their employer because they were better off overall earning less money. This is an absolutely stupid situation.

What is 100k when you have four kids to feed and pay university fees, a mortgage to pay and a parent to support through nursing care not provided by the State? There may be an argument for some form of fees, but it would have to be graduated. None of this arbitrary nonsense. We are not going back to the days of my grandparents where one lucky child was sent to education while the rest rotted.

I agree with you johnfás and think that we need to decide on some minimum entitlements that people in Ireland should have to receive an education. Its not that long since people in Ireland got their entitlement to second level, but times have changed quickly and its time now that everyone who qualfies for third level has the opportunity to take part. We all benefit from having an educated young workforce, so imo this should be paid for from income tax and corporation tax.

We do seem to have a problem of mismatch between training and jobs though, with a lot of technology jobs unfilled.
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